‘To Space & Back’ latest Planetarium feature

The Franklin Institute’s Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director Derrick Pitts hosts the recent premiere of “To Space & Back.” –SUBMITTED PHOTO

This week marks a key milestone for Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute with the premiere of “To Space & Back” — the most technologically advanced show ever presented in the Fels Planetarium.

Co-written and produced by The Franklin Institute’s Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director Derrick Pitts, “To Space & Back” explores how everyday lives are directly impacted by technology developed for space exploration.

“Every time we use GPS, look at images of the earth from space on computers or even use our smartphones to connect with friends and family, we’re using technologies developed for space applications or connecting directly to satellites in orbit,” Pitts said. “‘To Space & Back’ allows us to engage audiences of all ages in the realization of the many ways in which space exploration impacts us.”

To a family-friendly crowd, Pitts explained that the show was designed to involve some of the out-there-stuff to connect with the audience, allowing for a broad range of experiences.

A historic cornerstone to museum, the Fels Planetarium continues to spring forward in technology standards and advancement. 

Nearly 80 years since the 1933 opening of the Planetarium, The Franklin Institute debuted the first full dome show ever. This film was produced by The Franklin Institute, in partnership with Sky-Skan, the world’s leading manufacturer of immersive digital theaters.

Sky-Skan content distributor Judy Delude saw “To Space & Back” with her daughter, Amanda.  

“We drove 5 hours to celebrate the premiere at The Franklin Institute,” Amanda Delude said. “I thought it was well done and very educational. I never realized how much space technology is involved in everyday life and medicine.”

As a child, Amanda Delude recalls watching shooting stars across the sky, but never imagined what was in space and beyond until now.

Innovations such as alternative water purification systems and energy sources, turbine blades, home insulation, improvements in car safety and better fuel efficiency are all a result of space research and exploration, and all have directly impacted modern life. 

“To Space & Back” is a completely engaging experience showcasing the most advanced Planetarium technology.  The show is narrated by BBC’s Top Gear host James May, and includes scenes shot right in Philadelphia.  

To Space & Back Producer Annette Sotheran-Barnett credits the 28-minute show to contributing to a greater understanding and appreciation of space exploration.

“The purpose of the film is to reach 12 to 14-year-olds and connect what they do on earth with space,” Sotheran-Barnett said.

“To Space & Back” is being distributed worldwide, and will soon debut at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore; Melbourne Victoria Museum in Melbourne, Australia; New Jersey State Museum in Trenton; Tellus Museum in Cartersville, GA; Vanderbilt Planetarium in Centerport, NY and SongAm Space Center, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education.

“To Space & Back” runs daily in the Fels Planetarium.  General museum admission includes one Planetarium show.  For more information, please visit www.fi.edu.

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